Friday, October 28, 2011

St Simon and St Jude

Today is the feast of St Simon and St Jude. Both were apostles. Both suffered a martyrs death. Tradition holds that St Jude died in Syria, perhaps clubbed to death; while Simon may have died in Persia, having been sawed in half. Simon is also known as Simon the Zealot, perhaps as much to distinguish him from the other apostle called Simon, Peter; and Jude is probably the same person we hear called Judas, not Iscariot, in order not to confuse him with that other Judas who betrayed Jesus.

The need to distinguish these men from other, more well known, individuals, highlights the fact that both are relatively obscure figures ... we have very little information about them, other than that they are apostles. From that fact though we can be sure that where ever in the New Testament we hear the apostles, or the 12, or even once or twice in Acts, the 11, that these two men were present.

This means that they were with Jesus for almost all his ministry; that they journeyed with him, ate with him, endured hardship & good times with him; witnessed the miracle; listened to his teaching; questioned him when they did not understand; ate with him, daily and of course at the Last Supper; saw him risen; watched him ascend into heaven; received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost; and then worked to establish the Church and spread the Good News of their Lord Jesus Christ until the day they died.

Hence the words of our Epistle this morning, which tell us that we are members of the household of God, which is built on the foundation of the Apostles. Hence also the words of our Gospel, where he warns his followers that they will face hatred just as he did and run the risk of suffering the same fate as their master. Simon and Jude knew what they were letting themselves in for.

And yet they remained faithful ... faithful unto death. Why? Because they had faith in Jesus, faith in the Good News that first he and then they proclaimed. We owe a huge debt to their faith, and the faith of others like them. We may not know much about them as individuals other than their names ... but we know what they did and what they were willing to suffer so they could pass on the message of the one with whom they journeyed. And so we mark this day in their memory ... and pray that we, like they, even though relatively unknown may keep the faith ... pass on the Good News to others ... and at the last join with them and all the Saints in Glory. Amen.

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